Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Wounds that Burn So Deep

The other week I was cooking lunch for some friends who were breaking a long journey by spending an hour or two with us. They have a daughter who is six months older than Olivia and also a new baby who we had not yet met. We were very much looking forward to catching up with them, comparing babies and stories and generally chilling out.

So, it is Saturday lunchtime and frantic preparations are under way - tidying, cooking, dealing with Olivia. Not convinced that Mummy and Daddy were working quite hard enough Olivia decided to stick her entire fist in her mouth and was promptly sick in the play pen. Frantic cleaning of small sicky smelling child, sicky smelling playpen and sicky smelling toys.

By this time Mummy is getting very stressed and it trying to do a million things at once and not doing any of them very well. So, trying to get the food sorted before the guests arrived I was making a frittata and a pasta salad at the same time. I got the frittata pan out of the oven with the oven gloves and set it down and turned around to stir up the pasta salad. Rushing to get everything done I turned back and without even thinking about it I picked up the frittata pan by the handle. Yes, trusty readers, that would be the frittata pan that has just come out of the oven.

I often find that in situations such as this there is a sort of brain delay while I undergo a kind of internal dialogue along the lines of 'hmmm...this is very hot...I ought to put it down', all the while continuing to hold the very hot thing. There is also an internal alarm system telling me not to make a mess or damage anything by throwing down the pan....all the while continuing to hold the very hot thing. So I gently set the pan back down on the mat, not wanting to ruin the work surface. It is at this point I realise that I really have quite burnt myself and move to run it under cold water. F_ came running at my shouts but I couldn't really show him what I had done because it hurt too much to take it out from under the cold water. So he called my Mum from over the road for a second opinion on what was to be done. We all decided that a trip to hospital was required and so Mum volunteered to take Olivia while we were away.

Of course we were now less than an hour away from our guests arriving and it was abundantly clear that we were not going to be doing any entertaining that day. F_ regretfully had to give them a call on the road and send our apologies and we set off for the casualty department with my hand in a bowl of water with ice-packs.

We checked in at the desk, making sure that they knew I was 24 weeks pregnant, and sat down to wait. It cannot have been more than about 2 minutes before we were taken through to an exam room and a very jolly male nurse checked out my hand. By now, with just a wet tea towel on my hand I was in considerable pain and so they sat me down with a bowl of ice cold water and said that when I was comfortable someone would come and dress the burns.

At this point they gave me some pain relief.. Unfortunately there seems to be a bit of a gap in the market between paracetamol and an epidural! So...paracetamol it was. Now let me assure you that paracetamol REALLY doesn't cut it in this situation but due to being pregnant there was nothing else they were willing to give me. After 2 hours of my hand in cold water a new nurse came along to dress my hand. I explained that my hand was still very painful and the new nurse asked me what I had already had and when I told her paracetamol she said 'Oh don't worry I'll get you something stronger'. As I was sitting hunched over the bowl of cold water which was resting on a hospital bed my bump was kind of hidden. Once I pointed out that I was pregnant she apologised and said that in that case she didn't think there was anything else they could do for me but she would find out. Consultation amongst about 5 members of staff brought us all back around the the original conclusion that no, paracetamol was where it was at.

So, I took my hand out of the water and the nurse gave me some sterile cloths to dry it gently while she got some weird petroleum jelly gauze stuff ready. My hand was really starting to burn but I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt that the dressing would sooth it, and so the nurse started to apply the gauze. Unfortunately she had not got far before I just couldn't take the pain anymore and begged her to let me put my hand back in the ice-water and so the poor nurse had to take the dressings back off and back in the water went the hand. At this point we realised that there was really nothing more that the hospital could do for me that I couldn't do at home and so we asked if we could keep my hand in water and take the dressings home and hope that later I could take the dressing being applied. By this point I had several blisters forming on the palm of my hand and also up each of my fingers.

So back in a bowl of water went my hand, F_ gathered up an armful of stuff the nurses gave us and off we went back in the car and headed back to Mum's. F_ was due to drive down to London for a gig, his friend having brought the tickets as a birthday gift. Although he offered not to go, I couldn't really see what would be achieved by him sticking around and so he went off, leaving me in the capable hands of Mum. Ever the hero she stepped back into her weekday routine of nappy changing and baby feeding while I continued to sit with my hand in a bowl of water. Every time I took it out of the water it literally felt likeI was hold it over a naked flame.

9 hours, lots of ice-packs, more paracetamol, several DVDs and half a pack of Haribo later and I realised that it was now gone 11 and I was getting very tired. I had tried throughout the day to take my hand out of water and Mum had a abortive attempt to try and dress it again at about 4 but the pain was too much but I really couldn't go to bed with my hand in water so I just had to grit my teeth and dress the hand.

You know that thing you do when you are a kid where you held your hand over a bunsen burner or whatever and see how long you can keep it there until it gets too hot? Well, that was my hand out of water. Anyway I put on the stinky jelly dressing and tried to settle down in bed. The only way I could get any relief was to wedge it under my thigh so that firm pressure was applied all over my hand.

Amazingly I was so exhausted I managed to sleep till morning and the next day was a revelation. - strangely I wasn't in any pain at all. Obviously the dressing had made a difference after all.

I had to go back to the hospital on the Monday to have it checked and re-dressed, and to the GP surgery on the Wednesday for further checks and dressings. That was last week and now I have all the dressings off and although it intially looked like the skin was sticking back down on the blisters it has now all peeled off leavong raw looking red patched over my pal and fingers. It should heal nicely though and I don't think it will scar.

Pros and Cons of burning yourself:

You don't have to change any poopy nappies for a week at least

Searing pain, that I swear was worse than giving birth!

1 comment:

  1. omg! I'm cringing to read it! That's just the sort of thing I would do. When I was pregnant i was wearing a normal top, so it sat high on the bump. I reached into the oven to get out a baking tray, and about a centimeter of belly flesh was revealed and then pressed against the side of the hot metal tray. I had a little stripy scar for ages! yipes...